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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeju United


After failing to win any of their opening five games, both Gangwon FC and Jeju United will go into Easter Sunday's fixture desperate for three points. It's the away side who are bottom of the table, though, so perhaps they'll be approaching proceedings with a bit more urgency.


Recent Form

Marginal improvements so far aren't paying dividends for Gangwon, with Choi Yong-soo's side still yet to get the victory that seems to agonisingly allude them. Against Suwon Samsung Bluewings, right-back Kim Jin-ho helped secure a point, but there will be some regret that chances which could've handed the Bears all three points were not seized upon. Nevertheless, encouraging signs are better than nothing, and after three consecutive stalemates, the hope has to be that Gangwon are ready to turn draws into victories.

Jeju, on the other hand, come into this fixture on the back of three consecutive defeats. The most recent of these saw reigning champions Ulsan up by three goals within half an hour, perhaps showing just how vulnerable the Tangerines currently are. Still, they did manage to attain some consolation on the stroke of half time courtesy of Yuri's penalty, and it could be argued some recent misfortune has played a part in putting Nam Ki-il's men in a position they're not entirely deserving of.

Team News

Fortunately for Choi Yong-soo, his squad is starting to turn a corner in regards to their injury issues. Yang Hyun-jun returned earlier than expected from his fractured nose injury, captain Rim Chang-woo and striker Dino are ready to be involved, and Lee Jeong-hyeop, Lee Seung-won and Kevin Jansson aren't too far away from joining up with the group either. With that being said, the latter three are all still either going to be, or likely to be unavailable on Sunday, so there's still a little bit more time to go before Gangwon can truly boast a clean bill of health.

As for Jeju, they come into the fixture with a few issues. While Yeon Je-woon and former Gangwon player Lim Chai-min may be available, the likes of Jeong Woon, Choi Young-jun and Seo Jin-su are expected to remain sidelined.

Head-to-Head

It's the home team with the narrow advantage ahead of this week's matchup. Gangwon have won 12 of the 29 meetings between the sides, losing in 10, and drawing seven times. In fact, the Bears are currently undefeated in eight against Jeju, and will be looking to secure their fourth consecutive victory in this fixture on Sunday.

What to Watch

Can Choi Yong-soo find a winning formula?

Despite Gangwon's achievements last year, having a period of struggle under Choi Yong-soo's stewardship isn't anything new. Before their massive resurgence of form, the Bears won just three of their opening 17 games, and looked resigned to facing another season of struggle. Of course, we're a long away from that stage this year, and performances haven't seemed dramatically poor, but things do need to change should Gangwon wish to find their way out of potential danger.

At home to Jeju, the team Gangwon kicked off their upturn in fortunes against last summer, Choi Yong-soo has the perfect chance to get his side back to winning ways, and replenish confidence in the ranks. To do so though, finding the right front three combination seems vital.

Can Jeju capitalise on Gangwon's slow start?

It might sound strange, given Jeju are currently sat at the bottom of the table on two points, but if there was ever a time for them to break their winless streak against Gangwon, it could well be now. The Bears aren't firing on all cylinders and, with some defensive frailties still left in Choi Yong-soo's side, there's no reason why Jeju can't score what would be a massive victory on Sunday should they successfully recapture some of the form that's seen them finish inside the top half for two consecutive seasons.

If the Islanders do manage a win, it would be their first over Gangwon since May 2019.

Who to Watch

Kim Jin-ho

It hasn't been the easiest start to 2023 for Kim Jin-ho, who found himself displaced by new signing Yu In-soo fairly quickly. Now no longer able to qualify as an U22 player, the right-back needs to earn his spot on merit alone (not that he didn't in his excellent breakout year), which is an admittedly larger task now there's increased depth. But the 23-year-old did what was asked of him (and more) last Sunday in an excellent substitute appearance, one topped off by a smartly taken goal which should now see him in line to reclaim his place in Gangwon's starting eleven. 



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